Thursday, July 24, 2008

Breaking News!

Eric, here, everyone, with some breaking news.

Romance fiction--and, just as important, romance scholarship--is heading to Princeton next April!

I've been working on this for a while, and you may have heard tell of it once or twice, but the conference is now funded and ready to run.

The full story here, courtesy of Michelle Buonfiglio, who helped to broker the deal. More details soon--and more about other upcoming romance conferences--here at Teach Me Tonight!


  1. Congratulations! With those five departments sponsoring the conference, you've already carved out a rich intellectual space for the event!

  2. Congrats. I love the theme. Suddenly my love of that theme makes me feel so... free.

  3. wonderful news! I'm so excited about this - and already hoping someone will extensively blog this conference for those of us who won't be able to attend...

  4. Victoria Janssen24 July, 2008 13:28


    Are there dates yet? Can random folks attend, even if their MA is in anthro rather than anything relevant?

  5. Victoria, it's open audience, so yes, please come. I think the dates are still be "refined," let's say.

    And An, of course I'll be blogging it! ;)

  6. "All are welcome," Victoria, as the hymn says. Please come, and spread the word!

    About dates:

    Unless there's a major shift, which I'll certainly announce, the dates will be April 23-24, with most of the talks on Friday the 24th. There's a conflict for three of our invitees, who'll be in Orlando at the Romantic Times convention, but we're working on solving that in either a low-tech, carbon-intensive way--i.e., fly 'em up!--or a greener, high-tech fashion, like teleconferencing. More on which as things develop.

  7. Wow, that sounds great! Congratulations, Eric!

    Will there be a regular CfP, too?

  8. Victoria Janssen25 July, 2008 18:24

    I shall wait with bated breath.

  9. It's all happening! It really seems only a very short time ago that popular romance fiction was still considered wholly beneath any academic study and interest.
    I am really encouraged to see the genre being subjected to serious scholarly analysis, though I think I see some dangers, too. The unselfconsciousness of a genre that is outside the limits of 'serious' consideration has strengths as well as weaknesses: one of the reasons for the sheer inventiveness of romance, the blending with fantasy and fairy-tale, with science fiction and suspense, had to to do with the fact that there were not too many perceived rules, beyond those imposed by the publishers, who had their own ideas (often mistaken) about what would sell.
    I am encouraged, though, by what I have learnt about the people who are involved in this more conscious study of the genre. It seems to me that there are many people involved who have a good deal more insight than the traditional literary critic.

  10. I think I see some dangers, too

    Maybe I'm being overly modest, but I doubt that we'll have any significant effect on publishers because I suspect that in publishing high sales are considered rather more important than praise from a few academics.

    I suppose things might change if we either ended up with so many students studying the genre that being a set text meant significant sales, but I think that's still rather unlikely to happen any time soon. Or perhaps if we set up a prize which was the equivalent of the Booker it might have an effect, but that's not at all likely to happen, and it would have to have that level of name recognition before it might affect significant numbers of potential readers. It's not as though the RWA's RITA Awards currently seem to have much effect on sales, though editors do seem to be more interested in manuscripts which win an RWA Golden Heart.

    Secondly, we don't all like/study the same authors, so a variety of sub-genres and styles will get praise and attention from us.

    It would be nice if the academic study of the genre did do something to encourage publishers to "treat category fiction like works of art instead of cans of soup and writers like artists instead of cooks" (Crusie). Then again, I have the impression that quite a lot of editors are already aware that romances are not soup.

    I am encouraged, though, by what I have learnt about the people who are involved in this more conscious study of the genre. It seems to me that there are many people involved who have a good deal more insight than the traditional literary critic.

    One thing that definitely seems to be distinguishing this wave of criticism of the genre from the one in the 1980s is that, as demonstrated by the description of this conference, there's a desire to learn from the authors and to include them, and, in addition, so many of us think of ourselves as romance readers as well as academics.

  11. Is there any more information about the conference yet?